A friend, Cissy Stamm and I used to speak about Service Dog Training Club – a place for owner-trainers and other service animal handlers to brush up on obedience training in the context of public accommodations, but also for handler comraderie and learning how to skillfully handle those service animal access challenges. Once upon a time, it was impossible to make it through a day without being hassled by a poorly informed police officer or manager in one or another place of public accommodation. Do to the efforts of many brave souls, unnecessary access challenges are far less likely. I don’t know if the reduction in access challenges is the result of people being better informed or if they are just more concerned with the perception of illegally discriminating against members of a protected class.
We aren’t the service animal police, although I do sometimes find myself enamored with what that might entail, if only for a moment. This is not out of a perverse desire to target less than authentic service dog handlers. If people desire to play service animal handler, and do so with well trained, socialized and managed dogs – I doubt that anyone would care whether the dogs are legitimate or not. Places of public accommodation have been informed of their rights and responsibilities – fake or not, people with disruptive animals are subject to being asked to remove offending animals
There’s so much mythology surrounding access with service animals. The preeminent federal civil rights law provides excellent protections for persons with qualifying disabilities, and educates those entities that must respond to reasonable requests for accommodation. Are you unsure of the difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal? Perhaps you want to solve the conundrum: Which federal civil rights law provides a person with a disability the right to bring his/her emotional support animal inside your local supermarket? See the answer (A), below.
Are you a service animal handler with a need to brush up on the obedience work that enables you to manage your dog appropriately? Do you have questions about your rights and responsibilities in public access settings with service animals? Do you need practice answering “the questions that places of public accommodation may legally ask service animal handlers? Are you currently experiencing a housing related issue and don’t know where to turn? Need a friendly source of information?
Reach out and let us know if attending service dog club would be helpful to you!
We’re here if you need us…
(A) As of this writing, April 1, 2015, there are no federal laws that provide for access for people with disabilities with their emotional support animals. It is possible that local or state laws may apply. If you find such laws, please let us know.